Jordan king cancels Romania visit in Jerusalem Embassy row

Jordan's King Abdullah II canceled his scheduled visit to Romania. (File/AFP)
Updated 26 March 2019
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Jordan king cancels Romania visit in Jerusalem Embassy row

  • The Jordanian and Romanian governments had been due to sign an agreement, two memorandums of understanding and a cooperation program
  • Jerusalem is the source of the historic and religious legitimacy and what affects Jerusalem infringes on Jordan’s legitimacy”

AMMAN: The Jordanian Royal Hashemite Court announced on Monday that King Abdullah II had decided to cancel a visit to Romania. 

Osama Salameh, a spokesman for the royal court, confirmed to Arab News that the trip “had been scheduled to start Monday,” but that “in solidarity with Jerusalem, and following Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila’s remarks expressing the intention to move her country’s embassy to Jerusalem, the king has decided not to travel to Romania.”

A royal court press release said that King Abdullah’s visit to Romania, “which currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the European Union, had been planned to include meetings with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis and Parliament leaders.”

The king had also been scheduled to participate in the Aqaba meetings, which had been planned to be hosted by Romania in partnership with Jordan. 

The Jordanian and Romanian governments had been due to sign an agreement, two memorandums of understanding and a cooperation program, while a Jordanian-Romanian business forum had been planned to be held with the participation of private-sector representatives from the two countries.

Wafa Bani Mustafa, a veteran member of the Jordanian Parliament and a member of the International Parliament, told Arab News that the king’s decision “is an important message to all those countries that are trying to follow the isolationist decisions of the United States.” 

Bani Mustafa said that the decision of the king follows his appeal a week earlier for public support for the pressures that are being placed on Jordan regarding Jerusalem and the Palestinian cause. 

“For us in Jordan the issue of Jerusalem is not only a Palestinian issue but it is part and parcel of Jordan’s national interests.”

David Rihani, spokesperson for the Jordan Evangelical Council, said the king’s decision was a clear message to the world of his solidarity with Jerusalem to remain a holy city for all. 

“His Majesty is steadfast in his position for a just and a comprehensive peace in the region,” he said. 

Wasfi Kailani, the director of the Royal Hashemite Fund for the Restoration of Al-Aqsa, told Arab News that the Romanian move is risky for both regional peace and the Jordanian safeguarding of Jerusalem’s Holy Sites. 

“For His Majesty, as custodian of Jerusalem’s Islamic and Christian holy sites, nothing encourages the Israeli escalation of illegal violations on the ground more than the international community’s blessings and silence toward Israel’s flagrant desecrations of Jerusalem’s genuine identity.” 

Kailani said that moving the embassy of “a UN member state to Occupied Jerusalem does not only erode the status quo and kills peace but also it puts the credibility of the UN at risk.”

Hamadeh Farneh, a member of the Palestine National Council and a former Jordanian member of Parliament, told Arab News that Jerusalem is important to Hashemites and King Abdullah. 

“Jerusalem is the source of the historic and religious legitimacy and what affects Jerusalem infringes on Jordan’s legitimacy.” 

Faraneh said that the decision to cancel the trip to Romania is intended to “reflect the King’s anger and to ensure that countries like Romania don’t get any rewards for such decisions.”

Ahmad Awad, the director of the Phenix Center for Economic and Informatics Studies, told Arab News that the king’s decision was in the interests of Jordan and in support of the Palestinian cause. 

“Jerusalem is occupied by Israel and this decision is a message to all that our interests and our causes are the compass to which we focus our political decisions.”

Mahdi Abdul Hadi, a member of the Islamic Waqf Council and head of the PASSIA think tank in Jerusalem, told Arab News that the decision of the government of Romania to move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem represented a preemptive decision to the two-state solution, in violation of international law. 

“The government of Romania’s announcement is an attack on Palestinian national, political and religious rights that panders to the Israeli occupation narrative of Jerusalem, one that is strongly rejected by the international community. The king of Jordan’s decision to cancel his visit is not only in line with international consensus but also a clear message that Jerusalem is a red line.”

Khalil Atiyeh, one of the most popular members of the Jordanian Parliament, told Arab News that the King’s move is part of a continuous royal interest in Jerusalem. 

“The decision as stated by the prime minister of Romania is refused in Jordan by the King, the government and the people. We are proud of the royal decisions and we stand behind the king as he exposes the Zionist entity.”

Fawzi Samhouri, a Jordanian human rights activist, told Arab News that the decision by the king is a practical translation of his statement in Zarqa that Jerusalem is a red line and that he will never agree to any decision that affects Jerusalem as the capital of the independent Palestinian state. 

“This decision shows the king as a role model for how a person’s words and deeds are in sync with each other.”


Libya reopens Tripoli’s only functioning airport

Updated 59 min 27 sec ago
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Libya reopens Tripoli’s only functioning airport

  • Mitiga airport was closed earlier in the day when residents reported an air strike on the Libyan capital
  • Mitiga airport offers air links to a city of an estimated 2.5 million residents

TRIPOLI: Libya has reopened Tripoli’s only functioning airport, aviation authorities said on a post on social media on Sunday.

Mitiga airport was closed earlier in the day when residents reported an air strike on the Libyan capital, but a later Facebook post noted the arrival of an African Airlines aircraft from Istanbul.

A Reuters reporter and several residents said they saw an aircraft circling for more than 10 minutes over the capital late on Saturday, and that it made a humming sound before opening fire on several areas.

An aircraft was heard again after midnight, circling for more than ten minutes before a heavy explosion shook the ground.

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It was not clear whether an aircraft or unmanned drone was behind the strike, which triggered heavy anti-aircraft fire. Residents had reported drone strikes in recent days, but there has been no confirmation and explosions heard in the city center this time were louder than in previous days.

Residents counted several missile strikes, one of which apparently hit a military camp of forces loyal to Tripoli in the Sabaa district in the south of the capital, scene of the heaviest fighting between the rival forces.

Authorities earlier closed Tripoli’s only functioning airport, cutting air links to a city of an estimated 2.5 million residents. The airport in Misrata, a city 200 km to the east, remained open.

The Libyan National Army (LNA) force loyal to commander Khalifa Haftar started an offensive two weeks ago but has been unable to breach the government’s southern defenses.

If a drone strike was confirmed this would point to more sophisticated warfare. The LNA has so far mainly used aging Soviet-made jets from the air force of Muammar Qaddafi, toppled in 2011, lacking precision firepower and helicopters, according to residents and military sources.

The violence spiked after the White House said on Friday that US President Donald Trump spoke by telephone with Haftar earlier in the week.

The disclosure of the call and a US statement that it “recognized Field Marshal Haftar’s significant role in fighting terrorism and securing Libya’s oil resources” has boosted the commander’s supporters and enraged his opponents.

Western powers have been divided over a push by Haftar’s forces to seize Tripoli, undermining calls by the United Nations for a cease-fire.

Both sides claimed progress in southern Tripoli on Saturday, but no more details were immediately available.

A Reuters TV cameraman visiting the southern Khalat Furgan suburb heard heavy shelling but saw no apparent change in the frontline.

On Friday, two children were killed in shelling in southern Tripoli, residents said. The fighting has killed 227 people and wounded 1,128, the World Health organization said before the air strikes.

On Thursday, both the United States and Russia said they could not support a UN Security Council resolution calling for a cease-fire in Libya at this time.

Russia objects to the British-drafted resolution blaming Haftar for the latest flare-up in violence when his LNA advanced to the outskirts of Tripoli earlier this month, diplomats said.

The United States did not give a reason for its decision not to support the draft resolution, which would also call on countries with influence over the warring parties to ensure compliance and for unconditional humanitarian aid access in Libya.